In ICWA, Congress affirmed tribal authority to protect American Indian children through their own laws, courts, and services. It recognized that tribal courts are of commensurate standing to state courts. ICWA established minimum standards for states to follow in issues of custody and adoptions, giving tribes the right to intervene in state court proceedings as full parties. In an extraordinary acknowledgment of tribal sovereign authority for the time, ICWA provided protection to all tribal citizens no matter where they resided. As such, ICWA served as a catalyst for subsequent legislation that further restored the capacity of tribes to govern themselves and reinforced the era of self-determination for tribal nations.
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